School of Movement Medicine - Mindfulness in Motion

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Issue: June 2011
Time To Stand Up

By Susannah

Hello all you people. It’s a strong time for me. Thank you for reading this! I know it may not be easy. Almost every day I read shocking new reports of the severity of the environmental situation we dear humans have brought to our earth family. At the same time I have the feeling, “This is it! Time to stand up. Lets give life all we’ve got, lets follow the compass of our hearts without holding back, without attachment to the result. We know we’re in the unknown, lets go!”

I thank the great choreographer that the Long Dance is coming and we can all dance and sing and pray together for life on earth. It’s already reverberating in my heart.

I’ve been on a little tour for the last couple of weekends (‘Wild Life’ and a “Pachamama ‘Be the Change’ Symposium” in Warsaw, ‘Circle and the Sword’ in Berlin) and on my way I’ve gathered a few things I’d love to share with you about this time on earth, and what you and I and Movement Medicine may have to do with it.

At the beginning of the “Pachamama ‘Be the Change’ Symposium” everyone is invited to answer 3 questions: 1) “What do you perceive as the greatest challenge facing our species at this time?”, 2) “What gives you hope?” and 3) “What are you grateful for?” Good questions eh? I wonder what your answers are?

My answers today are these.

1) I perceive that the biggest challenge facing our species is that we are accosted by an overwhelming amount of information, and so, in order to function, we’ve learnt to “tune out”. Every day, most of us are barraged with emotionally disturbing images and news. This emotional disturbance is way over our capacity to digest, especially as we have become passive receivers of information. So, to avoid feeling stuck with overwhelming pain that we think we can do nothing about, we have become excellent at cutting off. Being semi-numb to the world is so usual that we don’t even realise that we are “self anaesthetised.” This becomes rather serious when the information we are therefore ignoring is connected with the very survival of the web of life which sustains us. So this leads to some sort of variation on: “There is nothing wrong and anyway I can’t do anything- so lets go shopping!” I heard recently that people now on average buy 4 times as many clothes per year as we did in the, wait for it, not 1920s, not 1960s, but the 1980s! Expletive deleted.

2) What gives me hope is that there are so many extra-ordinary people world wide doing extra-ordinary things and developing resources and wisdom which don’t get reported in the news, but nevertheless are there. What gives me hope is something Ken Wilber said (and I hope I am not mis-quoting him) about species, humans amongst them, making evolutionary leaps when they/we HAVE to. And it seems clear that HAVING to is coming up fast. What gives me hope is the way that healthy, connected, creative, empowered 3D human beings reappear on the dance floor pretty fast. Our healthy, life fulfilling, full bodied, full hearted aliveness is not so far away, even if we had dis-funtional parents, and have lived most of the last 10 years in front of a screen of one sort or another, given the right context. There is an instinct deep in us to live, to love, to flower as creative, connected human beings sharing our gifts with the community of life on earth. And the interweaving of indigenous and holistic wisdom with scientific invention also gives me hope. “Yes we can!”

3) And I am grateful that Movement Medicine is such a context, combining personal healing, artistic development and expression, with growing a natural sense of creative global citizenship. This comes naturally when we start to widen our sense of identity to include the whole family of life on earth, ‘all our relations.’ And that we can do all this through the medium of the glorious joy of dance, wow! Thank you life! For this I am grateful, and for all the amazing people who are connected with this path. I thank Olga, Kinga and Tatiana and all the Wild Life dancers and brave-heart symposium participants in Warsaw, and Kathrin and Nina and Clara and all the Circle and Sword dancers in Berlin. And Nina Paluden-Muller who accompanied me on this journey and whose comradeship has been so supportive and vital. To Hagara for inviting me to teach here at the Song Festival, and to Ya’Acov for your strength and love and the strength of your connection to spirit, it’s such a love and adventure filled journey we are on, to all our apprentices, those who have just completed their AP journey and those who are about to begin, and to those about to start the first Teacher Training who will soon be bringing their variations of MM into the world. And thank you to all the wonderful people who have danced with us, past and present and those to come in the future, and all we learn together about being human. And thanks to all the people who work and play in so many ways to discover how to live joyous, strong lives in a way which will leave a good world for future generations.

I’m now preparing to play my part in the Song Festival at ZEGG, near Berlin, and I’m really happy that I am going to sing and dance with the 300 people gathered here to sing for life, and then continue that thread with our Long Dance, which is already alight in my heart.

It’s very poignant to be here in north-east Germany. In this area they have only had 15% of their normal rain since January and the drought is serious. The ground is parched. The grass is brown like the dry season in Africa, the trees have less leaves and many of the crops have failed. Meanwhile at home it is wet and cold and we are thinking maybe we already had our “summer” in March and April.

On the train from Berlin I read an article from the BBC about how a recent meeting of international oceanographers and marine scientists have reported devastating evidence about how ocean life is being effected by the actions of our species, far, far quicker and more severely than had been expected yet.

In this context, I feel Movement Medicine has a role. Not a big role maybe, nor a small role, but its role, (to quote Lynn Twist) to support us humans to come into our bodies, our presence and our hearts, to find the courage to feel our response to what we are doing with our beautiful planet home, to engage our extra-ordinary minds, and to find our own collective and individual creative responses which come from our love of life.

I trust that the earth and life will ultimately survive whatever we do. At the same time I love life and the life forms which grace the planet now, and I want to play my role as best I can in solidarity with life and with the wish that future generations will know the beauty of the green, blue, rich planet. Our species is capable of such beauty and prowess, such extra-ordinary inventiveness, its only a matter of making sustainable life on earth of central importance. And this is a question, however rational we think we are, of being able to FEEL the urgency, on all levels of society. Once we get it, we can turn fast. Each one of us has a role to play in allowing this feeling to arise, and then the actions to flow from it. It’s not comfortable. But then neither is burying your head in the sand, really. And we are not alone.

Yesterday, here at ZEGG, there were two solstice ceremonies. In each one songs were sung, prayers for the earth and for rain. In the small one I attended two birds sang with us in a way I have never experienced before. As if the birds were singing a top harmony, really with us. And two hours later it rained for the first time for months, not long, but strong. More singing to come!

I would like to end with some quotes from the Symposium.

Words from Drew Dellinger’s poem in the Pachamama Symposium are reverberating for me:

“Its 3.32 in the morning and I’m awake because my great, great grandchildren won’t let me sleep.

My great, great grandchildren ask me in dreams,

What did you do when while the planet was plundered?

What did you do when the earth was unravelling?

Surely you did something when the seasons started failing?”

And from David Ullansey (founder of the Species Alliance)

“We are in the midst of a mass extinction, but the news has not reached the general public. They are utterly unaware that the sacred and talismanic and heartbreakingly loved companions of ours on this earth are about to be gone for ever. They will not return. African lions are on the absolute verge of extinction,. There are only 20,000 left. That is down 90% in the last few decades. Every species and sub-species of tiger is on the absolute verge of extinction. Elephants are down 90% in the past century. Ninety percent of large fish are gone from the oceans. Scientists and oceanographers were astounded and panicked by what they found”

These words are in deep resonance with this article I read on the train from Berlin in the BBC news.

Brain Swimme (mathematical cosmologist) :

“Nothing this destructive has happened in 65 million years. Why is this not our central concern? It’s overwhelming. No one imagined it could happen. So suddenly we’re confronted with this fact and we don’t really know how to respond to it. I think it’s beyond most of us, because we haven’t deepened our hearts in a way that would make possible the grief that is wanting to be felt”

and from Joanna Macey:

Joanna Macey (activist, author and teacher)

“The anguish we feel for what is happening is inevitable and normal and even healthy. Pain is very useful. Because if we are afraid to feel that, we won’t feel where it comes from and where it comes from is love, our love for this world. That’s what is going to pull us through.”

I wish us all the willingness to feel our love, the courage to act even if we can’t see the whole path but just the next step, and joy in every step as we dance this life dance together,

Susannah Darling Khan.

PS some more information about the Pachamama Symposium.

And this is a very inspiring interview with Joanna Macy:

More about the Symposium: The Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream symposium is the original name for the symposium. In Europe countries the name is normally the ‘Be the Change symposium.’ It has been created by the Pachamama Alliance. Global homepages for the Pachamama Alliance:

And for the symposium:

German homepage:

There are several upcoming Facilitator trainings in Europe (3,5 days) including one in Germany next week.

For details go to:

The youth organisation ‘Generation Waking Up’ has in 2010 adapted the symposium into what is called the ‘Wake Up Experience.’ And this is a very inspiring interview. Joanna Macy interview

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the School of Movement Medicine. Roland Wilkinson, Nappers Crossing, Staverton, Devon TQ9 6PD, UK Tel & Fax +44 (0)1803 762255 http://www.